From "Don't ask, don't tell" to "Thanks for asking me to be an elder" -- How One Congregation Moved from Exclusion to Inclusion of its LGBT Community (click title for more information)

2013 Summer Meeting

September 14, 2013
Rudy Torres


Pastor Torres firmly believes that the role of a church congregation is to reflect God's unconditional love.  This presentation will not deal the rightness or wrongness of the gay lifestyle—leaving that issue to God for He alone is the judge.  Rudy will tell the whole story of how the Glendale City Church moved from the exclusion to the inclusion of its LGBT community.  He will use multiple explicit examples that reveal the agony and the ecstasy of their journey and emphasize that the result was worth the painful struggle.  Each vignette is compelling and illustrates the broad principles that guided this progressive congregation. 

Since every church congregation is unique, what was accomplished at Glendale won't necessarily work elsewhere and a “cookie-cutter” approach will not be suggested.  However, sharing the Glendale story now is important because many Adventist churches are currently wrestling with the issue of how to relate to their LGBT members and the Seventh-day Adventist Church is poised to address the issue the morality of the gay lifestyle in official statements and proclamations.  In many ways the Adventist Church in America is a microcosm of American society where the debate of the civil rights of gays followed the debate of the civil rights of women. 

Questions to ponder:

1.  Are there groups in your congregation that are excluded? 

2.  Do you know LGBT people?  Are they family members, friends, or acquaintances?  Do you know any of these persons intimately? 

3.  Have you heard a personal story from an LGBT person sharing his or her heartache of growing up gay?  If so, how did you respond internally and externally? 

4.  What does your congregation do to encourage the inclusion of all groups? 

5.  If your congregation is moving toward the inclusion of its LGBT members, what is it doing for those who are threatened by this action? 

6.  Has your congregation experienced conflict over the gay issue?  How are these conflicts being resolved? 

 7.  Has your congregation (Sabbath School class, committee, church board, church business meeting) had discussions of the gay issue?  

Rudy Torres, BA, MDiv

After earning a BA in religion at La Sierra College and receiving his MDiv at Andrews University, Rudy has enjoyed serving a wide variety of pastorates ranging from Appalachia (Staunton, VA), to the Inner City (Capitol Memorial Church, Washington, DC), to a college church (Sligo Church at Columbia Union College, Takoma Park, MD), to suburban and city churches (Green Lake Church, Seattle, WA and the Glendale City Church and Garden Grove Church in California).

Rudy was the pastor at Sligo when it courageously ordained the first three SDA women to the gospel ministry (including Dr. Kendra Haloviak, our Spring Meeting speaker) in September 1995 just a few months after the SDA General Conference session in Utrecht voted against ordaining women.

Although Rudy is retired, he is delighted to be serving as Pastor Emeritus of the Glendale City Church.  He lives in Huntington Beach with his wife, Linda Nelson.

Tierrasanta SDA Church
11260 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92124
United States

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